How To Add Widgets To Mac Desktop

MacOS comes with a Dashboard, wherein you get widgets, apps designed to use a function or access a service. Widgets allow you to quickly access apps by switching to the Dashboard environment.

Apple designed the Dashboard so that widgets could run in a protected area. To understand it better, you can think of it as a Sandbox. Therefore, to enter the Dashboard app, you need to leave the Mac desktop.

However, this makes widgets a separate part on your Mac, which seems to be inconvenient to access. Would it not be great if widgets could exist on your desktop?

Well, it is possible. Apple even provides the steps for developers to let them test and debug their widgets on their desktop during development.

In this post, we have discussed how to add widgets to Mac desktop.

How To Add Widgets To Mac Desktop?

You can get your widgets on your desktop using Terminal. We need to enable Dashboard development mode using Terminal.

Add Widgets To Mac Desktop

Step 1: Click on Go->Utilties-> Terminal.

Add Widgets To Mac Desktop step-1

Once Terminal is launched, type in

apple dashboard

  • defaults write devmode YES

Now, Hit Return

Note: Please make sure you enter the command in a single line in the Terminal app.

Step 2: Now type the below command into Terminal:

killall Dock

killal doc step-2

Hit Return

Note: Make sure the case of the text matches as the above.

This will make your Dock vanish for a second.

Step 3: Now type the below command on your Terminal to end the current session:


exit command step-3

Press Return or enter.

Now close the Terminal app.

Once done, you need to follow a few more steps:

Step 4:  Move A Widget To The Desktop

Now that you are done with Terminal commands, you need to follow some additional steps:

If you have OS X Mountain Lion or Earlier, then follow these steps:

Note: Please make sure F-Lock is enabled

  • Press F12 or click Dashboard icon from Dock. Now select widget by clicking it and press the mouse button. Keep pressing the mouse button until the next step is completed.
  • Press F12 again and drag the widget to desktop at any preferred location. Once the widget is placed, let go of the mouse button.

If you have a newer version of macOS than above, then follow these steps:

  • Go to System Preferences (locate it from Apple menu)
    Move A Widget To The Desktop
    system preference
  • Select Mission Control.
    mission control
  • Locate Dashboard, from the drop-down menu, select As Overlay instead of As Space (in case of Yosemite, El Capitan. and macOS Sierra). Remove checkmark beside Show Dashboard as Space (in case of Mountain Lion or Mavericks)
  • Press F12 and get Dashboard icon. Select the widget and press the mouse button.
  • Keep the mouse button pressed and press F12 and drag the widget to the desktop. Once the widget is on desktop, release the mouse button.

Additional Tip: You can always place the widgets back in Dashboard, for that: Click on widget and press mouse button. Now don’t release the mouse button and press F12 and drag it to a preferred location on Dashboard.

To disable Dashboard Development Mode, you need to follow the same steps as we have followed in the first section. Only different would be in the first command,

  • defaults write devmode NOAdditional Tip

Instead of Yes, you need to type No after the command and hit Enter to execute the command. Followed by the two commands,

  • killall Dock

Additional Tip admin


So, in this way you can add widgets to your Mac desktop. Widgets on your desktop seem to be a great option to improve productivity, however, it is not recommended to keep widgets on the desktop if you have a small screen.

Bonus Tip: If you want to get third-party apps as a widget on your Mac desktop, you can always use Flotato app to get web apps of any of the websites you frequently use.

Read this to know more about Flotato app.

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  • Jason
    Followed the steps, went to Mission Control and there is no Dashboard option available. Tried these steps twice and still unable to see dashboard as on option in Mission Control.

    10 months ago Reply
    • Mridula Nimawat
      Hello Jason,

      Can you specify the macOS ?

      Thank you

      6 months ago Reply
  • lola
    can i do this with big sur?

    9 months ago Reply
    • Mansi Vijay
      Hey Lola,

      To add a new widget on your Mac, running Big Sur version, all you have to do is:

      1. Click on the app on the left side and find the widget you’d like to add and use.
      2. Select the size of the widget icon according to your convenience.
      3. Simply drag the widget to the right side into the current widget setup to set its place.
      4. You can go ahead adding more widgets, or simply click somewhere on the empty screen to complete the process!

      We hope this resolves your query!

      6 months ago Reply

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